Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snowy day

Yesterday and today we had our first snowfall of the year. We don't get much accumulation here but we make the most of what we do get! Micah and Levi wanted Aleks to help them build ships and then take them down to the creek. They set them a-sail and then fired at them with the BB gun trying to sink them. Levi made the argument that it wasn't fair to use the sight because cannons weren't equipped with them and it gave an unfair advantage. He maintained this policy until the battle got too fierce and then he broke down and aimed with the sight. ;-)

Elisabethe and Abigail got out of the bath and after they were freshly braided they decided to have "Church". They got down their song books and proceeded to go through their repetoire which consists of: Jesus Loves Me, God's Love Is Like A Circle, Come And Dine, and snippets of other tunes. It's so sweet to hear their singing!

Since we are homechurching again we've compiled our own "songbook" in a three ring binder. We thought it would be best to begin with the old songs that don't require the women to sing one thing and the men something different (what is that called anyway?) So far we have "Oh For A Heart To Praise My God" 1742, "All People That On Earth Do Dwell" 1500's, and "Praise To God, Immortal Praise" 1772. I want to add some of the old carols this week as well. These songs are meant to be sung slowly and I'm pretty sure that we sing them slower than most people would, but we find it helpful to meditate on the words rather than just race through the songs. That seems to defeat the intended purpose, doesn't it?
Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner we've brought out our meager Thanksgiving/Pilgrims/Early Settlers/Native American books out. We also have a set of Indians and canoes and horses that they haven't played with since last year when we read aloud The Sign Of The Beaver, they really enjoyed that story. The Story of Sarah Whitcher is another wonderful, true story that we like! On the food front, we have two turkeys that are going to be butchered early next week, they are an old heritage breed from Rhode Island called Narragansett. They aren't broad breasted like a Butterball but they are so flavorful, I can't wait!

I love Thanksgiving, it is good to reflect on all of our mercies and give thanks afresh!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Nostalgia, it has been said, is a great American disease. Yet an appraisal of the past need not be nostalgia. True nostalgia is “homesickness,” and even the most ardent antiquarian would not so yearn for the past as to want to return completely. In this speeding world, the faster we travel, the farther back we leave our past. We soon find ourselves using all our powers to “keep up with things,” and looking backward at all has become a lost art. Even beholding and evaluating the present becomes difficult.
We have actually come to believe today that we must either progress or retrogress. Each season of existence should be an entirely new one, according to twentieth-century thinking, and there is no such thing as intelligently remaining stationary. Next year’s things, we assume, must necessarily be improvement on this year’s, and to want anything but the newest, brands us as quaint.
Contentment too is considered a bogey in this century. Eugene O’Neill voices this modern opinion, saying, ”One should be either sad or joyful. Contentment is a warm sty for eaters and sleepers.” How different was America two centuries ago when Benjamin Franklin declared that “Contentment is the philosopher’s stone that turns all it touches into gold!”
We often observe that great-grandfather had a knack of enjoying himself that we seem to have lost. It might be that his “seasons for fun” were more independent from his “seasons for work” than ours are today. It might be, too, that he devoted himself more completely to the moment.
That great American privilege and aim, the “pursuit of happiness,” originally involved a now almost obsolete use of the word “happiness.” Then, it meant “blessedness,” or “a state of satisfaction or contentment,” but now it suggests fun. The "pursuit of happiness” which we accept as an American heritage is, it seems too often mistaken for a pursuit of fun. I am alarmed as I agree with Carl Sanburg that “Never was a generation.... told by a more elaborate system of the printed word, billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio, television—to eat more, play more, have more fun.” This, we are led to believe, is an American way, and a recipe for contentment. Yet the time for fun and the time for contentment were two very different seasons in great-grandfather’s mind; and he fared fabulously well with both.
I am indeed grateful for the good things of this age, yet I feel there were certain things of the past which were good and unimprovable, many of which have become lost. It is both my lot and pleasure to look backward, to search the yesterdays for such carelessly discarded wealth. I am forever thankful for living at this time when many of the marks of early America still exist, before that fast-approaching time when they will all have disappeared into a far different landscape.
America, the richest nation in the work, has managed to be the most wasteful. We will be the first to admit this, and there is even pride in our voice. We spend our way into prosperity and out of recessions so that thrift is regarded a way of the past. Across our nation at present is written a record of land wastefulness never equaled in the history of the world. Land is “improved” by destroying it and building over the waste. We always forgive ourselves with the ready excuse that we can afford wastefulness. But there is always a reckoning, and even now we begin to wonder. We might wonder what other wasteful ways of everyday life have also become Americanisms.
The lost seasons of early America may sound like vanished trifles, but in a confused age when the most patriotic American must sometimes grope for words to explain his heritage, or to define “ Americana,” any material which contributes to a better understanding of our past is invaluable, and it is often the apparently small detail which contributes most.
The American heritage, as I see it, is grounded in the freedom and expression of the individual, and individual freedom, I maintain, was a fresher spirit a century or two ago. Individual expression was likewise richer. I believe that freedom becomes stale and expression becomes poor without constant appraisal.
In this age of “arms races” and “ space conquest” the simple, basic philosophy of our past is too often ignored; and when the study of the past is mistaken for nostalgia, beware!

Eric Sloane
Weather Hill
New Milford

This is from the Author's note in The Seasons of America Past by Eric Sloane, an excellent book as is everything I've read from this author so far. I've had this ready to go in a post for quite a while, but decided to put it in today after a conversation with Tasha Tudor's granddaughter-in-law, Amy Tudor. I'm writing a piece about self sufficiency for Farming magazine and interviewed her about her famous relative. I have a regular column there called The Backyard Herbalist and the editor asked me to write the other self sufficiency piece for the Winter issue. I still have to select the photo to put with the article, but I wanted to write this post up first.

On the sewing front, I completed Abigail's quilted petticoat today. It is brick red on the outside and mustard on the inside. I machine quilted it, which was a first for me, to see if it was feasible to do one for me on the machine. I don't have a walking foot so I don't think I'll do mine that way. My sewing list is shrinking slowly but surely! I want to speak with a certain reader about a fan front gown she made recently, I have some linen that would look well made up thus. ;-)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our Anniversary

Today, November 3, 2008, is the eighteenth anniversary of our wedding day. We were married in the local Presbyterian church on a Saturday evening.

We had our reception at Delhurst restaurant where Mr. G worked at the time. My brother did the photography, my brother-in-law DJ'ed and my sister Dawn sewed the five junior bridesmaid's dresses. These were all gifts to us.

Mr. G's supervisor provided the catering and her mother made the cake!

And so we lived happily ever after!